By Thursday morning, scores of migrants are boarding buses to leave the town of Matias Romero in the southern state of Oaxaca, where their journey was held up by authorities at the weekend.
Salvadoran Andres Rodriguez, 51, stood with a small backpack and a gallon of water in a field sprawling with men, women and children, mulling over a document that gave him 20 days to reach any border out of the country.
Despite knowing the permit protected him from arrest and deportation, and that traveling alone is faster, he feared if he left the caravan he would be exposed to the robbery and assault that befall many migrants on the long slog to the U.S. border.
“It’s much safer,” he said. “Everyone is supporting us. One person alone is much more vulnerable and dangerous.”
Rodriguez, a builder, said he fled his home in El Salvador in the middle of the night, with only the clothes on his back, a few dollars, a nephew and his son, a student who had received a written death threat from a gang he had refused to join or pay.
Plagued by gang violence and poverty, El Salvador and neighboring Honduras have murder rates that are among the world’s highest.
Stranded in Matias Romero since Sunday, some migrants began boarding buses before dawn on Thursday, headed for the central city of Puebla, where the caravan was due to make another stop before concluding its journey in Mexico City.
By mid-morning, others packed bags in a field strewn with discarded clothes and trash as two more buses waited.
The caravan, organized by advocacy group, Pueblo Sin Fronteras, which set off from Mexico’s southern border on March 25, aims to raise awareness about the plight of migrants. The caravan has also been running annually since 2010, according to the government.
Reporting by Delphine Schrank